England

Boro boss Steve Gibson 'uncomfortable' with accused agent

Stewart Downing
Image caption Stewart Downing said large sums had gone missing from a business account

The chairman of Middlesbrough FC has told a jury he felt "uncomfortable" with an agent accused of fraud.

Ian Elliott, of Newcastle, denies siphoning off large amounts of money from a bank account held by former Boro player Stewart Downing.

Steve Gibson said the agent became "obstructive" during negotiations over a new contract for the midfielder.

He then decided to deal directly with Mr Downing and his father and a £11m deal was eventually signed.

There had been speculation that Tottenham Hotspur was interested in signing the player, which Mr Elliott confirmed during a radio show, Mr Gibson told York Crown Court.

Mr Gibson said that this was a way of increasing pressure on Middlesbrough and accused Mr Elliott of having "no respect for the consequences of his actions towards the club, and no respect for the consequences of his actions towards the player".

"It was all about Mr Elliott and what he could profit from," he said.

Information 'corrupted'

He said he then put the contract offer directly to Mr Downing and his father.

"I was expecting a long meeting," he said.

"The meeting was short because they were astounded at the figure in front of them.

"It was clear from the discussion the information passed to Downing's family had been corrupted by Mr Elliott, understated."

Mr Downing had earlier in the hearing told how he checked a business account which should have held up to £700,000, and found it contained only £11,000.

The 26-year-old, who now plays for Aston Villa, was then forced to reveal his spending habits, which included luxury items such as a £45,000 home cinema.

Mr Elliott, 53, of Foxhills Covert, denies four counts of fraud.

The trial continues.

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